December 31, 2015

This Year In Noe Valley: The Big Stories Of 2015

Nationally, 2015 will be a year remembered for terror attacks, ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis. It’s also the year same sex marriage became a constitutional right (yay!), the presidential race got off to a crazy-early start (ugh), and too many people died in mass shootings. In San Francisco, people were worried that the rich are getting too rich and the middle class is getting squeezed out. Oh, and we’re finally getting some much needed relief from the drought (thanks, El Nino!). But never mind that. All news is local, and here in Noe Valley we had different things on our minds. Here are the top stories of 2015 that preoccupied us, made us smile and that sometimes drove us crazy in our little village this year.

New Places to Eat
2015 was a good year for food in Noe. NoVY opened in the old Pasta Pomodoro space. Hamlet replaced Horner’s Corner with better food and friendlier bartenders. Starbucks killed La Boulange (aka La Boring) and La Boulangerie de San Francisco moved in instead. The owners of Savor opened Lazeez to mixed reviews, two restaurants at the edges of Noe got Michelin stars (Aster and Al’s Place) and the former Incanto/Porcellino space is slated to become Uma Casa in the summer of 2016. Meanwhile, the chain café La PanotiQ says it still plans to move into the former Global Fair Exchange at 4108 24th Street – only a year behind schedule.

So Long and Farewell
Sadly, there were lots of closings in 2015 too including several businesses that have been in Noe Valley for decades such as Noe Valley Music (now a nail salon), Cradle of the Sun (moved to Ocean Ave), The Ark (bankrupt), and Common Scents (becoming online only). The burned out Bliss Bar is slated to be a new restaurant called Tom & Rai with expanded housing above but construction appears to be stalled. Martin Mattox also closed and has been replaced with another pop-up duo Tejido & Somi. Successories, the little shop next to St. Clair’s liquors moved to Pacifica. Next door, the pop-up kids clothing store TugTug vacated to Guerrero St and a string of popups continue to inhabit the two storefronts while the permit for the 3 story addition to the building languishes in Planning. Isso also closed and the space remains empty. Meanwhile, the Noe Valley Radio Shack was miraculously spared a closure – at least for now – despite the national chain filing for bankruptcy. Another sign of the times: On Sanchez St, Life for Life and its pieces of fake fat left the neighborhood for good, only to be replaced by The Root, a midwife practice. Farther out on Church Street, K9 Scrub Club abruptly closed due to a personal situation and the space remains for rent. An artifact from another departure in 2014, the shoe sign from Mike’s shoe repair also turned up – in a private home at Mission and 24th (we ask again: is that stealing?).

The Neverending Real Foods Story Is Far From Over
In major 24th Street developments, 2015 started out so optimistically! The owners of the old Real Foods building hosted a presentation to unveil the plans for the Real Foods building. Amazing! Turnout to the meeting was solid. Drawings were shown. Questions were asked and (mostly) answered. And since then… nothing. No meetings, no updates and not even Scott Wiener has any info. What was supposed to be the Big Reveal was just the Big Tease. Whatever happens, we’ll believe it when we see it.

The Drones Have Arrived
You knew this was coming. It was only a matter of time before drones became a nuisance in our techie enclave – and realtors are proudly using them too anyway (here’s one of 147 Day Street). This will get worse before it gets better. In the meantime, watch your windows.

Crime Sucks
Despite reports that nationally crime is at an all-time low, there were plenty of reports of crime in the hood including: package thieves, suspects in a white Mercedes stealing phones and notebooks, succulent snatchers, a fatal dog attack at Douglass, copious bike and car thefts, an attempted rape and muggings. One bright spot: A traffic-snarling bomb scare turned out to be just a blender in a box. Stay frosty, Noe Valley.

RIP Vicki Rosen and Greg Gutknecht 
Two longtime fixtures of Noe Valley left us this year. Vicki Rosen, president of the Upper Noe Neighbors and longtime community activist, died on June 11 after a long fight with cancer. In January, Greg Gutknecht, the affable and talkative gentleman on 24th Street who did odd jobs for area merchants collapsed in front of Bernie's coffee shop and EMTs were unable to revive him. RIP Vicki and Greg – you are missed. 

New Beginnings
The Noe Valley Town Square got the final green light in 2015 and is set to become a reality soon. Construction is slated to start in January 2016 and the ribbon cutting is scheduled for October 2016. In the meantime, the Farmer’s Market will convene on 24th Street between Sanchez and Vicksburg on Saturday mornings. In other happy news, Video Wave of Noe Valley, which has been renting videos and DVDs at 1431 Castro St for 27 (!) years found a new home in the Buttons Candy Bar on 24th Street.  Other signs of renewal: The bulbouts and greening of 24th Street this year were welcome changes, and we were happy to see the Solstice Cracked refreshed again in June.

It’s Still Insanely Expensive to Live Here
2015 was a year of more "monster homes" in the hood – and more frustration from those that don’t want them here. A small but vocal group fought to Save the Shack at 369 Valley Street – and was successful in getting it designated a historic site. But that was the exception. Mostly we just saw lots of new homes, including a new Most Expensive House at $7 million - on Elizabeth Street and backing up the new development at Bliss Bar. A building boom also continues to update the Church end of 24th Street. And for good or ill, many of the neighborhood’s Permastoned houses are disappearing too, although plenty still survive.

The Forecast Is Beautiful
On a happier note, the drought and spare the air days this year made for some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. And more sunrises and sunsets. And rainbows. All year long. Yep, we Noe Valleyeons and our visitors are not shy about photographing our beautiful neighborhood. Huzzah!

There are so many good things on the horizon for 2016. The Town Square breaks ground on January 4 and we should have a new park and plaza in the center of our village by the fall. SF's first high end Portuguese restaurant, Uma Casa, is slated to open on Church St in June. And here’s hoping the open retail spaces on 24th Street become something useful and entertaining for the neighborhood. Whatever happens, we live in paradise and we’re all incredibly lucky to call this place home.

Happy New Year, Noe Valley! Here's to a safe, fun, and prosperous 2016.

Feeling nostalgic? Here were the top stories of 2014, 2013 and 2012.

Did we miss anything? Share it in the comments!

[Top image: @TYxMcFly]

December 20, 2015

This Week in Noe Valley: Holiday Lights, Darth Spotted and Merry Christmas

The latest news from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: The holiday train tradition via Noe Valley Bakery]

December 12, 2015

This Week In Noe Valley: Property Crimes Rising, Where to Drink on 24th Street, and the Vanishing Middle Class

The latest news from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas via brandnewjen]

December 4, 2015

NVV December 2015: We Read It So You Don't Have To

The Noe Valley Voice is published ten times a year and has been a neighborhood fixture since 1977. Here are notable highlights from the latest issue. Links are to stories we've covered here on NVSF or other resources. Follow the NVV link at the bottom for full articles and all the ads.

December 2015

Front Page: Head on over to neighbors Maika Nicholson's and Brad Wolfe's home at 7:30pm on 12/8/15 if you're interested in creating a Noe Valley Neighborhood Farm; "Lesbian Pioneers" Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, Noe Valley featured in the LGBTQ Historic Context Statement issued by the SF Historic Preservation Committee; The Farmer's Market will take over 24th St every Saturday starting January 2nd (although the NVFM folks say the market is closed that day) to allow for the construction of the Noe Valley Town Square; A brief biography of KPFA's Blues by the Bay host and Hill St resident Tom Mazzolini.

Letters: Kate explains why she voted against Prop F, which would have further regulated AirBnB.

Features: Clipper St repaving and traffic calming project delayed for at least six more months; 24 HoliDAYS on 24th St is back (because no neighborhood does the holidays like Noe Valley); Are we experiencing another housing bubble? No.

Cost of Living in Noe: A SFH averages $2.2M; A 2 bedroom apt averages $4742.

Short Takes: December food drive drop off at Whole Foods all month; SFFD Toy Drive at local FD stations and at Cliche Noe Gifts; Work has actually begun on Noe Courts.

Store Trek: Neighbors Corner Market, 499 Douglass at 21st St.

Rumors and Tidbits: A meager 54.2 percent of registered Noe Valley voters bothered; La Boulangerie is open; Construction has begun on La PanotiQ; Spin City has completed it's remodel and has added Noe Valley Coffee to its mix (Blue Bottle pulled out); K9 Scrub Club closed abruptly; Bom Dia has applied for an on-sale beer/wine license; Drewes is officially EJ Fine Meats; Neighbor Mike Underhill was lead attorney representing the US against BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

[The Noe Valley Voice]

November 4, 2015

NVV November 2015: We Read It So You Don't Have To

The Noe Valley Voice is published ten times a year and has been a neighborhood fixture since 1977. Here are notable highlights from the latest issue. Links are to stories we've covered here on NVSF or other resources. Follow the NVV link at the bottom for full articles and all the ads.

November  2015

Front Page: Noe Valley Town Square plans were revised [PDF here] to address neighbors' concerns about noise and safety after hours; Neighbors complain that James Lick construction work is too loud; Dolores Park renovation is still underway and should be done in January; Long-time Noe Valley residents Ramon Sender and Judith Levy-Sender run a speaker series called Odd Mondays at Folio Books.

Letters: No love for realtor drones from one Noe neighbor; Complaints about the one-sided coverage of Prop F and I; Key Kraft on Church St is temporarily closed while the owner gets it ready "for a new fellow who wants to open it up soon."

Features: The Google Buses in the neighborhood will face more regulation soon thanks in part to 296 complaints the SFMTA received from Noe Valley residents from Oct 2014 to June 2015, including nearly one quarter of which (!) came from a single Noe Valley resident; Chuck's on Church Street was held up at gunpoint on Oct 8 - the suspect is still at large; During construction of the Noe Valley Town Square, the Farmer's Market is proposing to relocate to 24th St. in front of the park site and traffic will be re-rerouted from 6:30AM to 2PM on Saturdays.

Cost of Living in Noe: Only seven single family homes changed hands in September and the most expensive was $2.7 million. Average rent: $2500-$4095 for a one bedroom.

Store Trek: Tone of Music Audio (1303 Castro at 24th St.)

Rumors and Tid Bits: La Bou is back - soon; Cradle of the Sun has moved to West Portal; TC Salon is open in the old Noe Valley Music space; There's nothing to report on Real Foods; St. Clair's is developing the retail spaces next door; The new luxury condos on 24th Street near Church are expected to list for $2.1 to $2.3 million and the developer hints that a tenant in the retail space downstairs is imminent; Lazeez is open next to Savor (same owner); La PanotiQ still hasn't started construction on the old Global Exchange space; Hahn's Hibachi renewed it's lease for 3 years; Tejido and Somi popped up the old Martin Mattox garage space; Bill Yenne will be speaking at Folio books on Nov 19 at 7pm; Charlie's Corner children's bookstore is now open on 24th at Castro.

[The Noe Valley Voice]

October 31, 2015

This Week in Noe Valley: Scary Openings, Tricks and Treats - and Other Halloween Mayhem

The latest news from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Halloweendays via iaranzadi ]

October 6, 2015

San Francisco Fleet Week Comes To Noe Valley

For the first time we can remember Noe Valley will have more Fleet Week than just the Blue Angels completing the southern loops of the air show overhead. The US Navy 32nd St Band will perform this Wednesday at the Noe Valley Town Square from noon to 1pm. Come on down if you can, or send the nanny with a picnic. See you there!

What: US Navy 32nd St Band
Where: Noe Valley Town Square, 24th St between Sanchez and Vicksburg
When: Wednesday, October 7, 2015; 12 noon -1pm
Cost: Free

October 3, 2015

This Week in Noe Valley: Blood Moon, Crazy Skies and Halloween Rising

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Janis Joplin on the town in Noe Valley, 1969 via nytimes. Her Porsche is being auctioned this December.]

NVV October 2015: We Read It So You Don't Have To

The Noe Valley Voice is published ten times a year and has been a neighborhood fixture since 1977. Here are notable highlights from the latest issue. Links are to stories we've covered here on NVSF or other resources. Follow the NVV link at the bottom for full articles and all the ads.

October  2015

Front Page: Realtors love drone photography for marketing (like this one of 147 Day Street) - neighbors just wish the annoying flying machines would go away; The Noe Valley Community Benefit District turns 10 and celebrates transforming Noe Valley's downtown area from a "frumpy shopping strip to an attractive commercial corridor that draws tourists and locals alike;" The guerilla gardeners of 22nd Street have cleaned up their steps; Where to go and what to do in Noe Valley on Halloween.

Letters: The Glen Park History Project thanks the NVV for the article on Glen Canyon trail improvements; Coyotes have reportedly been spotted 3 times at 25th and Hoffman (still no pictures); The flowers at 1566 Guerrero honor the memory of Alicia Titus, a United Airlines flight attendant who died on flight 175 when it was flown into the south tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Features: Local Democratic Club and Supervisor Scott Wiener say no on Props F and I, yes on D.

Cost of Living in Noe: The average sale price for a home was $2.6 million.

Short Takes: Harvest Fest has been replaced with Fall Fun Day this year on Oct 24 - a day of no street closures but lots of fun on 24th Street [Ed.--can't find any info online]; Holy Innocents Church at 755 Fair Oaks is turning 125; A final community meeting for the Noe Valley Town Square will be on Oct 13 at 7:30PM at St. Philips - it breaks ground in January 2016; Cliche Noe is featuring night photography by a local artist Graham Perry through Nov. 2; Lots of local readings this month at Folio Books; A memorial for Vicki Rosen will be held on Oct. 14 from 7-9 pm at the Upper Noe Rec Center auditorium.

Rumors and Tid Bits: La Bou is back - soon; Cradle of the Sun has moved to West Portal; Common Scents is closing at the end of the December because of dropping sales and high rents - owner Jan van Swearingen will reopen the shop online at [Ed.-- it's not live yet - can someone help her get at least an email entry form up asap?); Video Wave has moved but the Peace Pole has gone missing; no news on the old Real Foods space and no permits have been filed; The new Noe Valley Town Square will be getting a bathroom after all at a cost of $600,000, thanks to an anonymous donor; Horner's Corner is closed and turning into Hamlet - it will reopen at the end of October (hopefully); The storefront vacated by Ambiance at 3989 24th St is still not rented; the low-flying copters in September were part of a radiation study; Happy Donuts was named a top 7 donut shop by Eater; Al's Place at 26th and Valencia was named the best new restaurant in the US by Bon Appetit; Starbucks should have the permits needed to bring back the sidewalk benches by the end of October says the manager; Larry Lauterborn of Noe Valley Cheese Company lost his house in Middletown (South of Clearlake) in the recent Valley Fire - friends have set up a fund if you want to pitch in.

[The Noe Valley Voice]

September 26, 2015

This Week In Noe Valley: La Bou Redux, Attempted Rape Report and a Week of Wild Skies

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Fire skies via mbd2]

Closing: Common Scents

We got the news that Common Scents, the tiny but popular cosmetics store next to the former Noe Valley Music spot, is closing at the end of the year via Twitter a few days ago – and we finally have more details. The owner is moving to Florida at the end of the year after a 44 year run (!) and will continue to sell a similar collection of lotions and potions online starting in March 2016. In the meantime, as the sandwich board out front says, three more months to shop.

Sad to see another shop on that stretch close – and here’s hoping something interesting and useful takes it place.

September 4, 2015

NVV September 2015: We Read It So You Don't Have To

The Noe Valley Voice is published ten times a year and has been a neighborhood fixture since 1977. Here are notable highlights from the latest issue. Links are to stories we've covered here on NVSF or other resources. Follow the NVV link at the bottom for full articles and all the ads.

September  2015

Front Page: Patxi's abandons plans for parklet to avoid a public spat with other merchants; a profile of BookMentors run by Noe Valley resident Debra Hannula; hiking trails in Glen Canyon will get an upgrade.

Letters: Letter from the lawyer for The Ark toy store explaining why the company went bankrupt (online retail, smartphones and financing were the cited culprits); Omnivore Books and Noe Valley Pet Company owner Celia Sack urges you to shop local if you love a livable and vibrant neighborhood instead of realty offices, banks and nail salons. Also: RIP Noe Valley artist Royce Harris Vaughn.

Features: Diana Barrand, co-owner of Le Zinc dies of cancer at 57; the restaurant will endure. Clipper Street repairs and traffic-calming plans are back on the drawing board for new ideas.

Cost of Living in Noe: The $7 million home that sold in June tied for the most expensive sale in Noe Valley. Average rent for a 1 bedroom is $3,500+.

Short Takes: Coyotes were spotted in Noe Valley in August; no pictures.

Rumors and Short Items: The Ark filed for bankruptcy, despite 3 years left on the lease; Cradle of the Sun is moving to West Portal and lots of items are on sale - doors close Sept 13; Noe Valley Music is becoming a nail salon (ugh!!); Martin Mattox is closed; Video Wave has moved into a shared space with Buttons Candy Bar; Pascal Rigo will be taking back several La Boulanges under a new concept including the one in Noe Valley [Ed note - we have not seen any other confirmed reports of this]; The Noe Valley Town Square will break ground in January; There's no Harvest Fest this year but Just for Fun is hoping to hold a Fall Fest on Oct 24 instead; No news at Real Foods despite the presentation in January; and improvements are slated for Noe Courts including benches and landscaping, to be completed by Thanksgiving.

[The Noe Valley Voice]

August 27, 2015

Moving: Video Wave to Relocate Inside Buttons Candy Bar

Finally some good news on the small retail front instead of another closure or eviction: Video Wave of Noe Valley, which has been renting videos and DVDs at 1431 Castro St for 27 (!) years has found a new home – centrally located on 24th Street. A sharp-eyed reader sent this from the Video Wave Facebook page:
"We are excited and relieved to tell you that we signed a lease today with Buttons Candy Bar at 4027 24th street, 2 blocks from our present location. That means we have a place to move to, and to stay in business in!. We will be closed from Monday August 24th until our re-opening in the new location, which is planned for Tuesday September 1st! 
Stay tuned! We've received great support, enough financial help to get us into the space. We might have to raise money to help with the move, a new store space, and to offset the time we are closed, but let's cross that bridge later. For now, relief! And we get to get away from the Landlord That Shall Not Be Named!"
Nice to see owner Gwen Sanderson and the Video Wave team find a new home, and  the candy + movie combo could be a hit.

Video Wave of Noe Valley
4027 24th Street

[Photo: Holdn2aces]

August 16, 2015

We Live Here

Sure the fires in northern California are producing the smoke that is streaming at the Bay Area to produce crazy beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Reader Julie S reminds us all that San Francisco is an amazing backdrop whatever the natural wonder.

Closing: Martin Mattox

Just a year after opening in the dogs days of summer of 2014, the curators of style at Martin Mattox are closing their little clothing and housewares boutique at 1104 Sanchez St. According to the owners, the lease was up and business in their home decorating service has been brisk, so something had to give. The store closes today at 5pm and all items are on sale.
This spot has a long history of quick turnovers. Before it was the upscale Martin Mattox boutique, it was a consignment store called The Garage, and before that it was speech therapist, a computer repair shop and an antique store. Given all the other turnover on 24th St this month it might be awhile before it rents again.

August 9, 2015

The Latest Victim of Rising Rents: Cradle of the Sun

A reader forwarded us this note from Dan Gamaldi, owner of Cradle of the Sun, the charming stained glass store on 24th Street:
I'm sorry to inform you that yesterday our landlord let us know our rent was going up to market value. So after 33 years we are looking for another location. If we don't find a place we may be forced to retire. I'm keeping my fingers crossed things work out.

Meanwhile we are trying to sell off our stock and there are massive discounts on supplies and art glass. I'll keep you posted on events. We have 60-90 days before we have to be out.
33 years! That's a great run for a retail store. Sadly, Cradle of the Sun joins several other retail stores that have been hit with rent hikes at that end of 24th Street. We hope Dan is able to find a new home – and that the colorful threshold survives as Cradle of the Sun's legacy.

Lots of changes are afoot at that end of 24th Street: The Ark is closed. Noe Valley music is closed. Isso is closed. La Boulange is being shuttered by Starbucks in September. Horner’s Corner is being reborn as Hamlet. The Noe Valley Town Square will begin construction in January. The new retail/housing building next to Shoe Biz will be on the market soon, and the little Victorian next door will be demolished for mixed retail and housing. Change is hard; let’s hope it’s done right.

Update (8/28/15): Dan sent out another email today announcing a new location in a larger space:
Great news...we have a new location. 2377 Ocean Ave. A bigger space allowing me to add 3 extra students to each class. I should be set up and open by 10/15. I'm taking bookings for those spaces so get back to me early to have a preference. Class fees will be $230 per session. Each session goes for six weeks, 2.5 hours per week. The classes are 7-9:30pm Tues, Wed, Thurs, 9:30 -noon on Sat, 10:30-1:00 Sunday morning and 1:30-4 on Sunday afternoon. I supply the use of tools in class. You'll need to purchase the consumable but will get a 10% discount on those items. I'm looking forward to having even more fun. Thanks, Dan

This Week In Noe Valley: Overhearing Outside Lands In The Home Of The Lazy And Entitled

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Noe Valley sunset via @TheStreetCircus]

August 6, 2015

Noe Valley Town Square Meeting Update: Groundbreaking Scheduled for January 2016

Several weeks ago we got an email from the Noe Valley Town Square team announcing a meeting with supervisors Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell on July 9 with an update on the progress for the development of the Town Square site at 3861 24th Street. The original plan was to start breaking ground in August.

We asked Todd David who is on the Residents for Noe Valley Town Square Board for his recap and highlights of the event - and here’s what he told us. We’ve edited his answers only slightly for clarity:

Can you give us a short overview or summary of what was discussed in the meeting? The meeting was about 2 different issues:

      1. Park Funding in general
      2. An update on the Noe Valley Town Square

For the first part of the meeting, District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell spoke regarding his working on a ballot measure for the June 2016 election that would designate funding for operations for Rec and Park. He spoke in general about how the City will become more dense over time and acquiring and maintaining healthy parks will be key to San Francisco being a livable City over the next 100 years.

I then spoke about the amount of fundraising that has been accomplished to date: Supervisor Scott Wiener authored legislation to purchase the land for $3.8 million from the Open Space Acquisition Fund. Also included from that fund is an additional $343,000 for remediation. We received $567,000 from the State of CA in an Urban Greening grant. We also received $744,000 from the Federal Government from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Residents For Noe Valley Town Square is contributing $450,000 in private donations to the project and finally Supervisor Wiener secured an additional $670,000 in funds during the City's budget add-back process.

I then spoke about the process of how we got to our current "working" design. I talked about the neighborhood meetings and the input from neighbors to arrive on an original 4 designs. And then the process of voting from the four designs to the current "working" design. I also explained that the design will be driven a bit by the grant funding. For instance, a large tree is shown in our working design. However, the Land and Water Conservation Grant will only pay for smaller trees, so we will have to change that in the design. (There is actually a good reason to use smaller trees. It turns out that they have a better chance of surviving when planted in a new location and the sequester more carbon monoxide from the air than larger trees!)

Chris Guillard, the Landscape Architect from CMG: Landscape Architects took additional questions regarding design.

Were there any action items that came out of the meeting? I would say the main action item that came out of the meeting is that Residents For Noe Valley Town Square needs to have a meeting with the Farmers Market and the CBD [Community Benefit District] to see if we can come to an agreement where the CBD does additional cleaning/maintenance above Rec and Parks cleaning. The thought has been that the Farmers Market used to pay rent for the space. The current permit costs are significantly lower than the previous rent. Therefore, the difference in savings could potentially pay for additional cleaning from the CBD.

Are there any surprises or challenges ? The biggest challenge/surprise that has come up is the bathroom. Rec and Park estimates that we need an additional $600,000 to $800,000 to build a bathroom. We are working with Rec and Park to see if a less expensive solution is possible.

Where will the Saturday Farmer's Market be held during the construction? This question needs to be directed to the Farmers Market Board. As far as I know, no decision has been made yet.

Any updates about timing and next steps for progress on the construction? Groundbreaking is scheduled for January 2016 and Ribbon cutting is scheduled for October 2016.

Anything else that the community should know about the project? Please send in your pledge if you have not done so already!

[Photo: Google Maps]

August 1, 2015

This Week In Noe Valley: High Hopes for Hamlet, Patxi's Parklet Commentary & Dining Out With Kids In The Hood

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Gorgeous day, no left turn via muspillius]

The Secret History of SF’s Stonehenge Houses

We’ve always wondered what the owners of beautiful Victorian and Edwardian buildings were thinking when they decided to swap the beautiful wood façades for a Stonehenge-like faux stone – and now we know. A recent tweet via Eric Fisher from the 1950 edition of San Francisco Progress shows an ad touting the benefits of Perma-Stone: "Add Beauty, Permanence, and Strength to your Home at Low Cost! Eliminate Painting Forever!"

Perma-Stone - and several other variations of the artificial molded stone such as FormStone, FieldStone, Dixie Stone, and yes, Stone of Ages were popular in the 1930s, 40s and 50s and applied like vinyl siding to existing homes. Perma-Stone was invented in Columbus, Ohio and most popular in places like Baltimore and the East Coast, but found a foothold in San Francisco too, mostly in the Avenues. According to this article in SF Gate from 2010, film director John Waters dubbed Perma-Stone "the polyester of brick."

The ad from the SF Progress lists houses that had already been “Perma-Stoned” and many of them still stand, including these two in Noe Valley:

3976 26th Street – Apparently the current owners don’t buy the bit about never painting again and decided to turn the three-story building into the color of a Tootsie Roll.

4068 Army Street (now Cesar Chavez) - The Perma-Stone endures in what looks like it's the original color on this tiny Noe Valley fortress.

So the next time you see a faux stone façade around the neighborhood, now you know – the home was Perma-Stoned, probably 50-70 years ago.